Dear Wanda and Wayne,
I've been hanging out with a girl for about a month and we're getting closer physically and emotionally. She clearly wants more and more time together and it's been really fun and easy so far. I think it's getting time to decide on our girlfriend/boyfriend status. We have great chemistry and laughs, and we share a love of exercise and adventure. But we also have serious differences: She's a strict vegan; I'm a meat-eating machine. She doesn't touch alcohol; I have one or two beers a night typically, and like to party with friends on the weekends. She doesn't own a TV; I have a big TV, and it's almost always on, even when I'm not really watching. She has a not-so-serious job with no insurance, little savings, and she travels for months at a time; I have a serious job, am serious about saving and can't leave my home and job for more than a week or two at a time. We joke about the differences right now, but also both roll our eyes a little when we order completely different meals or talk about how we spend our time when we aren't together. I like her, but I'm already concerned that once we get past the newness and excitement of this relationship that our differences will make "normal life" really difficult or impossible to sustain. What do you think?
-- Mister Matched
Wayne says: There are a million old adages about how differences in relationships are actually positive things: differences keep life interesting, provide new perspectives, offer opportunities for new adventures and growth, and help couples balance one another out.
But the differences between you and your potential GF are dramatic. Like Lindsay-Lohan-coming-out-the-courthouse-or-nightclub dramatic. Like have-fun-on-your-two-month-trek-around-Peru-while-I-stay-here-and-work-to-pay-my-mortgage dramatic.
You're in the having-fun-getting-to-know-someone-and-making-out portion of your relationship but you already have concerns? That's a big, flapping red flag. If you were head-over-heels crazy about her, I'd say give it a shot and see what happens--it's pretty amazing the distances people will travel and the changes people will make to be with someone they love madly. But I'm not getting that vibe from you.
Why delay the inevitable? Tell her good luck and goodbye.
Wanda says: Congratulations! It sounds like you have found someone who is totally and exactly opposite from you! Wayne's right: hooking up with someone so startlingly different can make for some pretty fascinating self-discovery, not to mention it provides electrifying excitement when two opposing forces find harmonious balance. But do you guys have anything in common? Besides needing to eat, sleep and make out? Without any kind of shared ground to stand on, a sustainable future will be tough.
When considering a relationship, you have to think about whether there are enough mutual, day-to-day interests to keep you both going hand-in-hand in the same direction. Do you have activities, careers, or groups of friends in common? If not, are there things you can learn to do together? You said you both love exercise and adventure. Maybe you could take a cool trip, discover a new hobby or create your own quirky traditions?
While a breakup seems highly probable, it isn't necessarily inevitable. Focus on those few mutual interests, try to carve out and discover day-to-day harmony. If you reach that goal, then worry about the much bigger questions that loom about your future hopes, dreams and expectations.
• Wanda is a wise person who has loved, lost and been to therapy. Wayne is a wise guy who has no use for therapy. Send them your questions and thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org.